Had your daily dose of Yu Darvish news yet? No? Good, because over at the DMN site, Evan Grant has a short post up in which Ron Washington is quoted on the short-term plans regarding Yu Darvish and his status for the remainder of the season.
It’s our intention he will pitch again. I expect him to pitch for us on [August] the 25th. I have no indication that it would be more than 15 days. Let’s let the process work and see where it goes.
So, at least according to the manager, Darvish will not be shut down for the season as many have speculated. Could it be smoke and mirrors? Of course, and yet while the idea of shutting Darvish down for the season makes sense in theory, it never made much practical sense to me from the perspective of Darvish himself.
On Monday, Eric pointed out some of the details of Yu's contract as it relates to his Cy Young candidacy and potential free agency. To me, that Cy Young clause in his contract always seemed to be the reason why Yu Darvish would potentially be hesitant to allow the Rangers to shut him down for the season.
By shutting him down now, the Rangers would essentially be pulling Darvish out of the running for the AL Cy Young Award. While it's pretty likely he's not going to win the award regardless, it's the clause that allows for him finishing 2nd-4th in the balloting between now and the end of the 2016 season that offers Darvish the maximum earning potential. That is to say, right now, he's underpaid compared to what his market value would be on the free agent market. The sooner he can become a free agent, the higher his earning potential. The Rangers could very well try to extend him before that becomes a reality, but that's not the issue here.
I'm just not sure that one of the game's best pitchers, who knows he is one of the game's best pitchers, is OK with the organization he pitches for essentially cutting off his chance at at least finishing in the top 4 of the Cy Young balloting this season.
By my math -- or just me looking at the calendar -- if Yu Darvish were to return to the rotation on August 25th, that start would be the beginning of a string of seven likely starts to finish out the season, assuming he were to take the ball every fifth game. Even if you project Darvish to be outside of the top 4 pitchers in the American League right now, given recent performance, a healthy Yu Darvish is going to be a good bet to, over the course of seven starts, put himself right back into the conversation. At the very least, I'm not betting against him getting back into the top 4.
As always, I could be completely wrong on this. Perhaps the Rangers have already approached their star pitcher about working out an extension prior to free agency, and perhaps there's a feeling from both sides that, at some point, a deal will get done. If that's the case, then it absolutely makes sense for Darvish to bend to the organization's whim. If not, however, it's never made much financial sense for Yu Darvish to do anything but go out and maximize his value, even if the realization of that value is still just over two years away.
To be clear, I'm not implying that there's any kind of rift between the front office and Yu Darvish. I don't think that could be further from the truth. It very well may be that the Rangers would like for Darvish to stay on the bench until next season. With that said, I don't think there's going to be a huge stink made if Darvish doesn't necessarily want to do that, and at this point, I will still be surprised if Yu Darvish is actually done for the season.
I'd imagine we won't really know until August 25th rolls around.